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Direct Speech vs. Indirect Speech: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 8, 2023
Direct Speech quotes exactly what someone said; Indirect Speech conveys the message but rephrases it.

Key Differences

Direct Speech is a verbatim repetition of someone's words, enclosed in quotation marks, ensuring that the original message's exact language is preserved. Indirect Speech, on the other hand, is a paraphrase of those words without quotation marks, often requiring grammatical adjustments such as changes in tense, pronouns, or adverbs of time and place.
Direct Speech is often more dramatic or immediate, giving readers or listeners the experience of almost "hearing" the original speaker's words. Indirect Speech, while less dramatic, provides the essence of what was said without quoting the exact words, often used for summaries or reports.
In Direct Speech, the original speaker's exact words are paramount, so the sentence structure must accommodate them, often leading to unique or unconventional grammatical constructions. Conversely, Indirect Speech integrates the original message more smoothly into the surrounding context, typically resulting in more standard grammatical structures.
Direct Speech requires the use of quotation marks to denote the speaker's original words, creating a clear demarcation between the speaker's and the writer's voice. In contrast, Indirect Speech does not use quotation marks, blending the speaker's message more seamlessly with the writer's or reporter's narrative.
Direct Speech and Indirect Speech both serve important functions in language: Direct Speech can add authenticity or emotional impact to the conveyed message, while Indirect Speech can make language more concise and is often more flexible in terms of narrative and grammatical flow.

Comparison Chart


Uses exact words, quotation marks
Paraphrases, no quotation marks

Dramatic Effect

More dramatic, immediate
Less dramatic, more summary-like

Grammatical Structure

Can be unconventional
More standard, smooth


Stands apart from the writer's voice
Blends with the writer's/reporter's voice

Function in Narrative

Adds authenticity, emotional impact
Provides conciseness, narrative flexibility

Direct Speech and Indirect Speech Definitions

Direct Speech

Repetition of someone's exact words.
He said, I'll be there soon.

Indirect Speech

Often used for summaries or reports.
She asked if we could reschedule.

Direct Speech

A method to present dialogue in texts.
Can we reschedule? she asked.

Indirect Speech

A stylistic and grammatical device for smooth narrative flow.
He whispered that he wouldn't ever forget this kindness.

Direct Speech

A way to convey the speaker's original emotions or emphasis.
I absolutely refuse! he shouted.

Indirect Speech

Conveys the essence of what was said with grammatical adaptations.
He shouted that he absolutely refused.

Direct Speech

The use of quotation marks to denote spoken content.
It's freezing today, she remarked.

Indirect Speech

Paraphrasing someone's words without quoting verbatim.
He said that he would be there soon.

Direct Speech

A stylistic choice for authentic representation of speech.
I won't ever forget this kindness, he whispered.

Indirect Speech

Doesn't use quotation marks, integrates into the writer's narrative.
She remarked that it was freezing today.


Do I always need quotation marks in Direct Speech?

Yes, quotation marks are essential in Direct Speech.

Can Indirect Speech change the message's tense?

Yes, tense changes are common in Indirect Speech.

Does Indirect Speech eliminate the need for quotation marks?

Yes, Indirect Speech doesn't require them.

Can Direct Speech include nonverbal communication?

Yes, if it's described within the quoted speech.

Is Direct Speech more impactful in narratives?

Often, as it conveys emotions and immediacy.

Is punctuation crucial in Direct Speech?

Absolutely, it dictates clarity and understanding.

Can Indirect Speech alter pronouns and adverbs?

Yes, pronouns and adverbs often change in Indirect Speech.

Does Indirect Speech maintain the original speech's emotion?

Not always; some nuances can be lost.

Is Indirect Speech useful for lengthy summaries?

Yes, it's ideal for concise, paraphrased summaries.

Can I merge multiple points in Indirect Speech?

Yes, it's common in summaries or reports.

Does Direct Speech reflect the speaker's exact words?

Yes, it's a verbatim repetition.

Is Indirect Speech more flexible in narrative construction?

Yes, it's adaptable to different grammatical structures.

Should I attribute speakers in Direct Speech?

Typically, yes, to clarify who's speaking.

Are there exceptions to changes in Indirect Speech?

Yes, universal truths or unchanging facts remain the same.

Does Direct Speech always need a reporting clause?

Not always, but it helps identify the speaker.

Can I use Direct Speech for multiple sentences?

Yes, you can quote lengthy speech verbatim.

Does Indirect Speech need conjunctions for clarity?

Often, especially "that" for reported statements.

Is Indirect Speech less formal than Direct Speech?

Not necessarily; formality depends on the usage context.

Are there rules for paragraphing in Direct Speech?

New speaker's words typically start a new paragraph.

Can Direct Speech be confusing without context?

Possibly, context helps interpret the quoted speech.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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